Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thieves in Paradise's the sneak peek I promised from Thieves in Paradise coming May 11th:

Charity sat in the feeble shelter provided by the port wing of the Antarean’s shuttle. He’d taken the unnecessary precaution of fastening the kevlex tether to one of the shuttle’s landing struts while he climbed on the nose of the craft and removed the huge tree limbs that had landed on the wind screen. Her assurances that she had no intention of trying to escape in this weather had been met with stoic indifference.

Even partially protected from the driving rain, she was shivering and exhausted. The only consolation she found in this otherwise hopeless situation was that the bounty hunter had nearly fallen off the slippery bow of the shuttle twice during his efforts to dislodge the branches, and he seemed suitably vexed by the crack in the glass.

At the moment he lay spread-eagle against the forward hull while he attempted to shove the second limb free of the ship. At least he hadn’t expected her to help. But that left her with little to do except ruminate on how she could possibly escape from him.

After a while she ran out of imaginary scenarios, and now she was left with nothing else to do but study his impressive physique.

Paid bloodhound or not, by the Goddess, he was put together well.

Though most of his body was covered in mud at the moment, his corded muscles rippled with every movement. The fallen tree limbs were each as thick around as her waist, yet he moved them with relative ease. A human would have required help, maybe even machinery, to complete the daunting task.

She wondered what made such a fine male specimen loyal to a runt like Gar Gremin. It had to be money. Since he hadn’t even acknowledged her offer to split her take with him, the Magistrate of Valencia must have offered him something substantially more valuable that a quarter million credits.

That left Charity short at the bargaining table. If he wasn’t interested in money, what could she trade him for her freedom?

That thought lead her curious gaze to his firm backside and his massive thighs and, despite the icy rain, her face went hot.

She couldn’t. She would never—had never—bartered her body, even with men who would have willingly accepted such a proposition.

She wasn’t that kind of woman, and she’d steadfastly refused to let circumstances dictate a compromise in her values. Just because she’d grown up struggling on one of the galaxy’s poorest colonies, didn’t mean she had to rely on her body to make a living when her brain could get her so much further.

Nevertheless, he was certainly a prime candidate for debauchery. His face was handsome enough, despite what seemed to be a perpetual scowl of disapproval, and he moved with sensual, almost predatory grace that hadn’t escaped her attention, especially when her wet body had been plastered against his.

He’d be huge, no doubt, a challenge for her physically...ooh, but what fun it might be to peel off his tight flight suit and see for herself what an Antarean cock looked like.

“Goddess bless me, I’ve lost my mind!” As quickly as the wind-driven rain changed direction, reality intruded on her uncharacteristic sexual fantasy and Charity’s thoughts careened back to the problem at hand.

She’d sooner shoot the bounty hunter than fuck him. Obviously the relentless rain and mind-numbing discomfort had made her delirious.

* * * *

Kol’s boots hit the squelching mud and he sank to his ankles in front of the shuttle. At least he’d managed to remove the branches. Now he had to worry about getting atmo sealant to set in this humidity. He calculated at least six hours before they’d be able to lift off, and by then he’d be half out of his mind trying to interpret the true meaning of his erotic vision.

He swung around to glance at his captive and looked away quickly when their eyes met. She’d been watching him work, no doubt planning her next nefarious scheme. Magistrate Gremin had warned Kol about Charity Foster. She was smart, fast, and could talk her way into or out of just about anything. That’s how she’d ended up in Gremin’s monthly game of High Aces where she’d cheated him out of four million in selenite.

Granted, it seemed it was more Gremin’s pride than his purse that had taken a beating in the game, and cheating at High Aces was not a federal offense, but Kol had taken the job because the price was right and he had a personal dislike of cheaters of any kind.

His job would be much easier if she looked guilty. Right now, she seemed small and defenseless. The mud and rain had left her blond hair stringy and plastered to her skull, all but obscuring the decorative purple streak. Her face was smudged and her slender body trembled with the cold.
He could have secured her inside the shuttle, but short of tying her to a seat, she’d have had access to the controls and his supplies, and he couldn’t trust her not to sabotage his mission.
She raised her graceful brows at his approach and swiped at the chilly drops of rain that hung from the tips of her dark lashes. “Now what?”

“I have to apply the sealant on the inside of the glass.” He unhooked the kevlex tether from the landing strut and then from the cuffs and directed her toward the shuttle’s hatch. “I’ll be watching you closely. Don’t try to escape.”

She rolled her golden eyes at him. “Where in Goddess’s name would I go? Face it, flyboy, you’ve got me. I’m your prisoner.”

He didn’t like the emphasis she put on the word prisoner. There seemed to be a sexual innuendo there that made his thoughts circle round to the vision he’d been trying so hard to forget. Had her hands been tied when he’d fucked her? Kol would never force himself on a female, certainly not a captive and certainly never a non-Antarean, yet the idea of pushing her bound hands above her head and settling her hips against his made his cock stir uncomfortably.

Did he only imagine the flirty tilt of her head and the secretive smile as she passed by on her way into the shuttle? Her rounded ass swayed a little as she lifted one leg and climbed into the ship. He dared not follow right away, but instead stood for a moment in the driving rain, allowing the cold water to soothe the sudden flush that traveled up from his groin.

He would not use her. Even if she begged him to.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I got cover art!

My next release will be available on May 11, 2008 as part of the Amber Quill Alien Nation Pax. I got the cover art this morning for Thieves in Paradise...

Here's the blurb:

Kol A’Kosu, an Antarean bounty hunter, is on the trail of another rim colony criminal. Gifted with visions that show him future events, he’s already seen himself capturing Charity Foster, the beautiful Human selenite thief, but that’s not all he’s seen. His visions have never been wrong before, but this time there must be a mistake. He can’t possibly take a Human as a bond mate, or worse, subject her to the painful rite of separation, the only way to dissolve the intense sexual link that draws Antarean couples together.

Charity faces certain death at the hands of the Magistrate of Valencia, but before she loses her life, she’ll lose her heart to the man assigned to bring her to justice.

Stay tuned for a sneak peek...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cockeyed optimism is over rated

Let me start by saying, I’ve read The Secret and I am a firm believer that a positive attitude can help create positive results a solid 85% of the time.

That being said, realism and optimism are definitely at different ends of the spectrum and will always remain so.

Case in point – my day yesterday.

I planned on getting a few errands done and I figured they would be relatively easy. While DH waited at home for our SIXTH visit from the fridge repair guy [yes, don’t even ask], I went out to the library to renew a book and to the bank to return some items to a safe deposit box. How hard could these things be, right?

Well, at the library, the computers were down. So I could not renew the book because, and I quote the library employee with whom I spoke, “That would be too many things to do manually.”

Eh? This is a very small town. When I say small, I mean the south end of town is just north of the north end of town. That’s how small it is. The library has seven books in it. Six outdated encyclopedias and one copy of The Amityville Horror [the book I was renewing for DD]. Seriously, on a weekday morning in the middle of April, how much ‘manual’ labor did they think they’d have to do if the computers were down, even for a whole day?

How did the library manage to operate before there were computers? They never had a staff of thousands. The same four people have worked there for 200 years [I’m exaggerating, 199 years] and way back when, they did everything MANUALLY.
I shrugged and said I would come back later.

Off I went to the bank. There, it took the bank clerk fifteen minutes and three different keys to figure out how to open the little bank vault door behind which my safe deposit box resides. Typical bank question: “Are you sure this is the right number box?” No, I’m not sure. I chose a number randomly. “Are you sure you have the right key?” No, this may be the key to my offshore account in the Seychelles.

There was twisting and turning and expressions of dismay and finally, she turned the key IN THE OTHER DIRECTION, and it opened.

No way. You would think that even in a small town such as this, a bank with literally hundreds of safe deposit boxes would have enough traffic that the clerks would know instinctively which way the keys turn. This was not a new employee, btw. Now, you might say, hey, anyone can make a mistake. Heavens, I drove halfway across town with my parking break on a few months ago and DD is still laughing about it. We’re all only human. I wouldn’t even complain except a second bank employee had to open the little door to put the box back when I was done with it, and she did the exact same thing. Struggle, struggle, struggle, twist, turn, sigh, try three other keys and finally turn it in the other direction. Behold! It opens.

Then I went home to discover that the fridge repair guy wasn’t coming because the dispatcher told him we cancelled the service call. We didn’t.

We put in a new service call and finally the technician arrived around 2:00. He did the same thing the other five guys have done. He wrote down the part number of the fridge, typed it into his portable computer and ORDERED THE PARTS the computer told him to order. So two weeks from now we can expect to receive THE WRONG parts again and he can come back and tell us the parts don’t fit.

So what’s the Secret to not blowing a gasket? I vote for high doses of sedatives. Or extreme sarcasm, whatever works for you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The value of limits

We talk a lot about the value of having choices. I consider myself very lucky to live in a society where I have an abundance of choices available to me. I can choose my religion, my political party, my career, my spouse. Those choices are priceless and I'm of the belief they are inalienable and should belong to all people.

In addition to these fundamental choices about my life, I can choose what clothes to wear and where to buy them. I can choose how to do my hair and what color I want it to be. I can even choose the color of my eyes if I want to spend extra money on colored contact lenses. I can choose to have a pet or three, I can pick where I want to go on vacation subject to my budget and I decorate my house as I choose. When I go to the supermarket I have dozens of cereals, types of bread, juice, meat, tea, fruit and cookies - all at my disposal. Anything I want, I just have to choose it.

So why is it sometimes better to have fewer choices?

One of the pitfalls of having too many choices is [and I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, mind you] that it can take too long to make a decision and you have all the more time and ability to second guess yourself. Out of 200 breakfast cereals, how do you know which one is the best? You can try them all, but most of them you won't like. You can choose based on calorie or fiber content, or the color of the box. You can choose by price and availability, or you can spend all day comparing nutritional value until you make the most informed and intelligent choice you can make. Same thing with car insurance, or bicycle tires. Too many things today require a PhD of some sort in order to choose them properly.

One thing I learned during my earliest child-rearing years was that too many choices can be a bad thing. I learned not to show my kids the clothes closet and say, "What do you want to wear?" The answer could take all day. I discovered picking two outfits out and giving my son especially a choice of one or the other worked best. He didn't have to agonize over his decision. Too much freedom makes toddlers insecure. They need limits.

So do we all sometimes. That's why when I made the decision to have the house painted I said to my painter [K's husband, btw] Don't give me too many choices for paint colors. I don't want to go crazy pouring over 4000 pages of paint swatches trying to find the precise shade. He laughed and he agreed and he brought me a selection of about 20 colors - which was tough enough to work with, but I managed.

As a group, DH and the kids and I reached a consensus rather quickly and decided on the following:

Hillside Green for the main color

And Georgian Brick for the doors.

Not too hard a decision. It's nice to have something in life be relatively easy - made so by the lack of choice rather than the abundance of it.

Seems odd when you think about it, but I think it was definitely the right choice for me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You know you're in trouble when...

someone quotes Spock's dying words to you.

I was on the floor laughing last night over Big Bang Theory. When Sheldon balks at joining the team for the Physics Bowl, Leonard pulls out the big guns and gives him..."The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few..."

How many times have I heard that one? When you're a Trek geek, it's practically mandatory to hear that addage. Too funny.

DH gets a kick out of Sheldon's Green Lantern shirt too.

I'm not much for repeats these days, but here's a show I have to see more than once. In fact I watched in twice last night, along with How I Met Your Mother which also rocked, for all you Robin Sparkles fans.

All this comedy took the sting out of the Rejection I received from Harlequin for my submission to Nocturne Bites. Sigh. Hey, at least I have a completed story to sub elsewhere. Back to the drawing board.

I tawt I taw a...Romulan?? LOL.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lazy Daze

It's not often these days that I read a book that makes me want to put my own writing aside [and housework and editing and everything else] just to finish it, so today is red letter day.

I just spent the last hour finishing The Beach Club, by Elin Hilderbrand. I read until my eyes got blurry and I couldn't quite make out the numbers on the clock telling me it was well past time to order the pizza for dinner.

Good thing I wasn't planning on cooking tonight, because I had to finish this book.

So what made this story of the guests and staff at en exclusive Nantucket resort so interesting? No one saved the world. There were no sizzling sex scenes, no spaceships or sexy vampires. This one came from outside the box of books I usually pick from. I got drawn in because the characters are compelling. To borrow the cliche, they lead lives of quiet desperation [usually a big turn off for me] but they just wouldn't let me put the book down. Like with the works of Nora Roberts, I was pulled into their world and I didn't want to leave until they were finished telling me their tale.

Nice work. I'm off to search for other books by this author. Anyone who can get me to set aside my own work in favor of hers deserves some more of my time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rather than relax

when I'm done with a story, I paint. This was yesterday's project. I really should be painting the bedroom or the bathroom or something, but at least with this, I don't have to do the ceiling.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Fish Called Wanda

It's ironic I suppose, that my last surviving goldfish, Wanda, passed away today just as I completed my merman story.

I guess she wanted to hold on to the end, but she's been in a bad way since her companion, Cosmo, died a few months ago.

I cleaned out her tank this morning and she seemed fine, but by lunchtime, she was swimming upside down and shortly thereafter stopped swimming all together.

Poor Wanda. She was a good fish. I think maybe the stress of living with a curious cat got to be too much for her.

With my rough draft done, I'm now planning to take another few days off to catch up on other projects before diving [pun intended] into work on another paranormal full length novel.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vegetable of the day

I bought some of this yesterday and because I'm easily amused, I found it to be fascinating to look at. It tastes more like cauliflower than broccoli, and in fact I think it is just a species of cauliflower rather than some weird chimera. It sports natural fractals, which is really cool.
It would make a nice, alien side dish.
I've obviously been away from writing too long when vegetables get me thinking about stories.
Time to get back to work.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Authors behaving badly...again [SIGH]

I find it sad that I've come across so much material for my periodic 'How to Ruin your Writing Career in Ten Days [or less]' posts.

I've already talked about the young author who lifted whole passages from someone else's book and garnered herself a hefty advance for a book that's now been recalled by the publisher. I've mentioned the author who slammed not only the work but the morality of erotic romance writers everywhere, and the well-known author accused of plagiarizing from a journalist.

The next schoolyard scandal is about a writer not only taking a reader to task for a less-than-perfect review, but apparently harrassing the reader and getting other authors or friends to do it as well.

Again, I won't name names because publicity is publicity and I don't want to be responsible for helping this author sell more books. All I'll say is: Bad Form.

We all get less than stellar reviews from time to time. I've read a few reviews of my own work that left me cold and a bit annoyed and wondering what book the reviewer actually read, and I've read some reviews of my work that have made me dance around the house feeling like a million bucks.

Getting bad reviews, or sometimes worse, lackluster reviews, is part and parcel of being a writer. Just like getting rejections, you have to learn to suck it up and move on. Not everyone is going to love your book. Some people will plunk down their hard earned money and discover you named a character after their ex-boyfriend which irritates the crap out of them and so they hate your book. You may have written a scene or used a phrase that grates on their nerves, challenges their sensiblities or creeps them out. You may not have ended the book the way they imagined you should have. So rather than chaining you to a bed and breaking your foot, they write a bad review.

If given the choice of a broken foot a bad review, I'll take the review, thanks.

Here's a few things to remember:

Sometimes bad reviews sell books too.

A bad review is only one person's opinion.

You don't have to justify yourself or your book to a reviewer.

Arguing with someone about their OPINION will not change said OPINION 99.9% of the time.

When in doubt, take the high road.

Swallowing the frustration you feel when someone trashes your work, or even just seems not to have enjoyed your work, isn't easy. There's a satisfaction to be had in telling someone off, we all know that. But do yourself a favor and suck it up. You'll be happier in the long run and so will your many readers.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The year in review

Originally I planned this post to be a long winded account of everything I've accomplished since turning 40 last year, but then my daughter made me this drawing, and decided that summed it up better than waxing rhapsodic about how many books I've had released [7] or how many pounds I've lost [15] or how many book signings I've had [1].

Hopefully the year ahead will be just as productive. 'Nuff said. Off now to the DMV to get my driver's license renewed.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hmm...maybe I ought to blog?

I've been neglecting my blog badly. I took a few days "off" after finishing my edits to catch up on other things, and I've been enjoying not spending a lot of time at the computer.

This week I have to get my butt back in chair and get to work. Yesterday I signed the contract for Rogue Heart! The second [I don't really want to say sequel because it's not really about the same characters] to Rogue Theta.

Here's the blurb:

A Chi series enhanced human, Onika Ramos can seduce any man, but the fatal flaw in her biological programming is that she falls in love with her targets. When Zed Lantrell, the enigmatic scientist who created her, wants to see her, she chances a reunion, determined to convince him to change her biological programming and free her from her enslavement to chemical lust.

When she finds Zed has been brutally murdered, she feels relief and terror. No one can save her now, least of all Aidan Fynn, the attorney assigned by Central Command to represent her. Given into Fynn’s mercurial care, Onika faces the greatest challenge of her life to not fall hopelessly in love with the former soldier once he learns the only way to gain her trust is to take her to his bed.

I'm working on a third story set in the same universe - also not a proper sequel - but hopefully that one will find a place at EC soon as well!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Character of Writers

This has been on my mind for a couple of days and I thought I'd pose the question and see what turns up.

Last week some time, I read a rather disturbing account of 'what's wrong with writers' written by of all people, a publisher, who shall remain nameless.

The consensus of this diatribe was that writers are flighty, high strung creative types who are difficult to deal with even under the best of circumstances. That's not a verbatim account, mind you, just my impression of the long-winded complaint that I read.

While I'll happily own the 'creative' part, and being creative isn't always a blessing, mind you. It can be rather frustrating a lot of the time, I have not now, nor have I ever been [at least as far as I know] flighty or high strung. [DH might argue the latter. He thinks I'm largely insane, reactionary and easily flung off the deep end, but he's wrong.]

Flighty to me says someone who can't be trusted, is constantly fluttering from one thing to another and never quite knows where they're going to land. I'm pretty stable as far as that goes. I'm dependable and fairly focused, except when it comes to housework in which case, yes, I probably could be described as mildly flightly. Like a bee.

High strung - nah. I really don't think of myself as high strung, and of the writers I know, I can't really name anyone whom I would classify as high strung. To me that says someone who is nervous, easily upset, given to ranting [I only rant about banks mind you] and hyper-sensitive. I probably used to be hyper-sensitive, but I'm over that now.

So what I'm getting at is, as a writer, are you flighty and high strung? I tend to think flighty, high strung people will have a hard time making it in this business. You really need to be rock solid and focused to get by in a world where success is measured in weeks and months of waiting time and rejections are badges of honor. Writing a novel is a long process that takes buckets of BIC [butt in chair] and grueling attention to detail. High strung people will fall to pieces over ignored submissions, year-long waits, rewrite and revision requests that don't amount to a sale, rejections, tedious edits, the minutiae [sp?] of going over galleys for typos and the endless drag of promotions and marketing strategies. The high strung, flighty types are going to fall out of the writer's rat race pretty early in the game and end up gibbering on the sidelines.

What do you think? Is being flighty and high strung all part and parcel of being a 'creative writer type'? Or is that just a symptom of those who ultimately won't be able to cut the mustard?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Revisions Done!

I completed my revisions on Uncross my Heart yesterday! Now back to waiting.

I've decided to take a couple of days off and just putter around the house before I jump back into working on my next EC novel.

*Note: My wonderful EC editor has accepted Rogue Heart - the second in the Rogue universe series after Rogue Theta! Just waiting for title approval. And I've signed a contract with Amber Quill for Wolfsbane 2: Leader of the Pack which will be part of an August Howling at the Moon Amber Pax.

Hard as is it, I think I can manage a day or two of serious house cleaning as my reward before I dive back into the deep end.